Paris: Novak Djokovic's dream of becoming just the second man in history to hold all Grand Slam titles at the same time twice was crushed by Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros on Saturday. Thiem downed the world number one 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 to set up a repeat of last year's final against 11-time winner and defending champion Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic, who was second best to Thiem when it came to mastering the gloom, wind and damp of Paris, was bidding to join Rod Laver in the Grand Slam history books. However, it's 25-year-old Austrian fourth seed Thiem who goes on to face Nadal where he will be buoyed by having defeated the 17-time major winner four times on clay in his career.
He will also attempt to become just Austria's second Grand Slam men's champion after Thomas Muster won in Paris in 1995. Thiem did it the hard way, squandering a 4-1 final set lead and two match points before he sealed his place in the final. "It was an amazing match. It was my first five-set match at Roland Garros so it was a good one to have," said Thiem after the four hour 13-minute match which was played over two days. "To be in the semi-finals with the three best players of all time (Nadal beat Roger Federer in the other semi on Friday) is really amazing." On the challenge of facing Nadal, who has had a day more to recover, he added: "It seems that anyone who gets to the final here plays Rafa.
"He will be the favourite but I hope to just leave it all out on the court again and we will see." The semi-final had been controversially suspended overnight Friday with Djokovic complaining about the 'extreme wind' in the stadium. When play was halted, with the top seed trailing 1-3 in the third set, there was still around two hours of daylight remaining. However, tournament organisers defended the decision after winds of up to 80km/h were forecast throughout the evening in Paris.
- Agence France Presse